Sarah Forbes

Dr Sarah Forbes BSc, PhD, PGCert

Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences


I was appointed as a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University after completing a BSc and PhD in microbiology at The University of Manchester. My research is focused within the fields of antimicrobial chemotherapy and microbial ecology. I have taught both undergraduate and postgraduate students on microbiology and immunology programs.


I am a lecturer in biomedical sciences at Sheffield Hallam University working within the fields of antimicrobial chemotherapy and microbial ecology. I am particularly interested in the mechanisms of biocide resistance in bacteria, in developing anti-infective biomedical device coatings to prevent biofilm-associated infections and in understanding the responses of biofilm communities to antimicrobial treatment. 

I successfully completed a PhD in microbiology at The University of Manchester which was based on evaluating novel antimicrobial peptides as potential anti-infective coatings for biomedical devices. Following this I completed a position as a research associate working in partnership with Unilever and Colgate Palmolive on programs evaluating bacterial responses to biocide treatment. 

In the past 4 years, I have acquired 11 publications in leading scientific journals and have presented my research at 5 international conferences in addition to presenting at departmental seminars. I was an invited speaker to the 36th International Congress of the Society for Microbial Ecology and Disease. I hold a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education and teach microbiology and immunology on undergraduate and postgraduate programs. 

I am passionate about scientific outreach and have previously worked alongside the RCUK School-University Partnerships Initiative, Aim Higher Microbiology and Guerilla Science, who aim to engage and educate the public on topical scientific issues.



Undergraduate and Postgraduate Student Projects


Combinatorial effects of biocides and quorum sensing inhibitors in medical device related pathogens. The microbial contamination of biomedical devices is a primary cause of hospital-acquired infection and causes major medical and economic burden. With an ageing population it is likely that the need for implantable biomedical devices will continue to rise, resulting in an increasing threat of difficult to treat device-associated infections to the populous and an increasing economic strain on healthcare service providers. My research focuses on the use of biocides and quorum sensing inhibitors to inhibit the establishment of bacterial biofilms on device surfaces and prevent device-associated infections.

Small colony variant formation in Staphylococcus aureus after long-term biocide exposure. Staphylococcus aureus is an important human pathogen that is responsible for a range of hospital and community-acquired infections. Successful treatment of such infections is complicated by the generation of antimicrobial insusceptible small-colony variants (SCVs). My research aims to evaluate the generation of S. aureus SCVs after exposure to the biocide triclosan and to characterize any phenotypic consequences that occur as a result of this adaptation.

In vitro modelling and characterization of bacterial biofilm communities. Bacterial biofilms are spatially structured communities whose function is dependent on a complex web of symbiotic interactions. Biofilms are found both within the human body and the natural environment and often display a high level of recalcitrance to antimicrobial therapy. I use in vitro biofilm models to mimic real life bacterial communities and evaluate antimicrobial treatment regimes.


Journal articles

Lacey, M.M., Capper-Parkin, K., Schwartz-Narbonne, R., Hargreaves, K., Higham, C., Duckett, C., ... Rawlinson, K. (2023). University student-led public engagement event: increasing audience diversity and impact in a non-science space. Access Microbiology, 5 (8).

Capper-Parkin, K.L., Nichol, T., Smith, T.J., Lacey, M.M., & Forbes, S. (2023). Antimicrobial and cytotoxic synergism of biocides and quorum-sensing inhibitors against uropathogenic Escherichia coli. The Journal of hospital infection, 134, 138-146.

Duckett, C.J., Hargreaves, K.E., Rawson, K.M., Allen, K.E., Forbes, S., Rawlinson, K.E., ... Lacey, M. (2021). Nights at the museum: integrated arts and microbiology public engagement events enhance understanding of science whilst increasing community diversity and inclusion. Access Microbiology, 3 (5).

Henly, E.L., Norris, K., Rawson, K., Zoulias, N., Jaques, L., Chirila, P.G., ... Forbes, S. (2021). Impact of long-term quorum sensing inhibition on uropathogenic Escherichia coli. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Hamilton, A., Wotton, T., Porter, J., Grewal, K., Chirila, P., Forbes, S., ... Whiteoak, C. (2020). Merging Cu-catalysed C-H functionalisation and intramolecular annulations: computational and experimental studies on an expedient construction of complex fused heterocycles. Organic Chemistry Frontiers.

Ledder, R.G., Latimer, J., Forbes, S., Penney, J.L., Sreenivasan, P.K., & McBain, A.J. (2019). Visualization and quantification of the oral hygiene effects of brushing, dentifrice use and brush wear using a tooth brushing simulator. Frontiers in Public Health, 7 (APR).

Henly, E., Dowling, J., Maingay, J.B., Lacey, M., Smith, T., & Forbes, S. (2019). Biocide exposure induces changes in susceptibility, pathogenicity and biofilm formation in Uropathogenic Escherichia coli. Antimicrobial agents and chemothery.

Forbes, S., Morgan, N., Humphreys, G.J., Amézquita, A., Mistry, H., & McBain, A.J. (2018). Loss of Function in Escherichia coli exposed to Environmentally Relevant Concentrations of Benzalkonium Chloride. Applied and environmental microbiology.

Bazaid, A.S., Forbes, S., Humphreys, G.J., Ledder, R.G., O'Cualain, R., & McBain, A.J. (2018). Fatty acid supplementation reverses the small colony variant phenotype in triclosan-adapted staphylococcus aureus: Genetic, proteomic and phenotypic analyses. Scientific Reports, 8 (1), 3876.

Forbes, S., Cowley, N., Humphreys, G., Mistry, H., Amézquita, A., & McBain, A.J. (2017). Formulation of Biocides Increases Antimicrobial Potency and Mitigates the Enrichment of Non-Susceptible Bacteria in Multi-Species Biofilms. Applied and environmental microbiology, 83 (7).

Forbes, S., Knight, C.G., Cowley, N.L., Amézquita, A., McClure, P., Humphreys, G., ... Drake, H.L. (2016). Variable effects of exposure to formulated microbicides on antibiotic susceptibility in firmicutes and proteobacteria. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 82 (12), 3591-3598.

Forbes, S., Latimer, J., Sreenivasan, P.K., & McBain, A.J. (2016). Simultaneous assessment of acidogenesis-mitigation and specific bacterial growth-inhibition by dentifrices. PLOS ONE, 11 (2), e0149390.

Cowley, N.L., Forbes, S., Amézquita, A., McClure, P., Humphreys, G.J., McBain, A.J., & Drake, H.L. (2015). Effects of formulation on microbicide potency and mitigation of the development of bacterial insusceptibility. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 81 (20), 7330-7338.

Latimer, J., Munday, J.L., Buzza, K.M., Forbes, S., Sreenivasan, P.K., & McBain, A.J. (2015). Antibacterial and anti-biofilm activity of mouthrinses containing cetylpyridinium chloride and sodium fluoride. BMC Microbiology, 15, 169.

Forbes, S., Latimer, J., Bazaid, A., & McBain, A.J. (2015). Altered competitive fitness, antimicrobial susceptibility, and cellular morphology in a triclosan-induced small-colony variant of staphylococcus aureus. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 59 (8), 4809-4816.

Forbes, S., Dobson, C.B., Humphreys, G.J., & McBain, A.J. (2014). Transient and sustained bacterial adaptation following repeated sublethal exposure to microbicides and a novel human antimicrobial peptide. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 58 (10), 5809-5817.

Kadirvel, M., Fanimarvasti, F., Forbes, S., McBain, A., Gardiner, J.M., Brown, G.D., & Freeman, S. (2014). Inhibition of quorum sensing and biofilm formation in Vibrio harveyi by 4-fluoro-DPD; a novel potent inhibitor of signalling. Chemical communications (Cambridge, England), 50 (39), 5000-5002.

Krašovec, R., Belavkin, R.V., Aston, J.A.D., Channon, A., Aston, E., Rash, B.M., ... Knight, C.G. (2014). Mutation rate plasticity in rifampicin resistance depends on Escherichia coli cell–cell interactions. Nature Communications, 5, 3742.

Forbes, S., McBain, A.J., Felton-Smith, S., Jowitt, T.A., Birchenough, H.L., & Dobson, C.B. (2013). Comparative surface antimicrobial properties of synthetic biocides and novel human apolipoprotein E derived antimicrobial peptides. Biomaterials, 34 (22), 5453-5464.

Latimer, J., Forbes, S., & McBain, A.J. (2012). Attenuated Virulence and Biofilm Formation in Staphylococcus aureus following Sublethal Exposure to Triclosan. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy, 56 (6), 3092-3100.

McBain, A.J., Forbes, S., & Latimer, J. (2012). Reply to “Lack of Evidence for Reduced Fitness of Clinical Staphylococcus aureus Isolates with Reduced Susceptibility to Triclosan”. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 56 (11), 6072.

Krasovec, R., Belavkin, R., Aston, J., Channon, A., Aston, E., Rash, B., ... Knight, C. (n.d.). Where antibiotic resistance mutations meet quorum-sensing. Microbial Cell, 1 (7), 250-252.

Theses / Dissertations

Capper-Parkin, K.L. (2024). Development of Antimicrobial Impregnated Catheter Coatings to Prevent Uropathogenic Escherichia coli Infections. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Forbes, S., Nichol, T., Lacey, M., & Smith, T.

Billacura, M.D.G. (2023). Group-13 catalysed protocols for utilisationof CO2 as a sustainable C1 source. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Bricklebank, N., Whiteoak, C., & Forbes, S.

Henly, E.L. (2019). Antimicrobial Adaptation in Uropathogenic Escherichia coli. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Forbes, S.

Postgraduate supervision

Emma Henly - Combined efficacy of microbiocides and quorum sensing inhibitors in uropathogenic Escherichia coli

Cancel event

Are you sure you want to cancel your place on Saturday 12 November?